"You'll need a code name for this job," the man told me.
"O.K.," I said.
He pushed the folder across the desk and motioned for me to examine the contents, watching intently all the while, except for the time it took him to pick up a large cigar and light it, cracking the match to flame with his fingernails.
"Pretty interesting, isn't it?" he asked, letting the smoke curl from the corners of his mouth. I smiled knowingly and pushed the folder back.
"I've practiced my whole life for this," I said.
"If you do your job right," the girl said, "we will bring Wall Street to its knees." Her laugh cut through the room like a saber.
I nodded. "I have the code name," I said, and they leaned forward to hear it. The silence was eerie. "Odd Lot." I spit it out. The odd-lotter is both the laughingstock and the bane of Wall Street, the little sucker who buys less than 100 shares at a time, who makes for a lot of work and small commissions. The investor known for bad decisions. "The perfect irony," the big boss said, chuckling, and the girl picked up the cue and began to giggle herself. "They laugh at odd-lotters. Now let's see who has the last laugh. Heh, heh, heh," and he brought his cane down hard in emphasis. He was still chortling as I walked away, moving briskly down the hall. There was much to be done. Odd Lot must have special identification and telephone contacts to relay his orders—middlemen who would know better than to inquire about Odd Lot's real identity or his hefty bankroll.
The Odd Lot gambit had begun long before I was called in as the hit man. The project had originated with the girl and been researched, analyzed and passed on to the big boss for his approval. There had even been discreet feelers along Wall Street itself, which was paramount to the whole scheme. It was outlined in the secret folder, which I never saw again.
The intrigue had begun shortly after off-track betting was legalized in New York City early in the year. The OTB people had released a sample advertisement to the newspapers that read: "If you're in the stock market, you might find this a better bet." Well, this offhand suggestion gave Wall Street apoplexy. The bigwigs protested (too much) and fired off indignant letters. Playing the horses might be betting, they maintained righteously, but playing the stock market was a different thing altogether. It was an investment.
Well now, the girl thought devilishly, let's find out. Let's find which is the better bet—horse stock or market stocks. A deal was struck with a stockbroker (whose account of his activities follows mine on these pages); he was given $2,000 to play the market. Since I was a salaried soldier in the family that instituted these shenanigans, I was merely provided with a drawing account of $2,000—to play the horses.